Warlash: Dark Noir #1 Comic Book Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Asylum Press
Written by Frank Forte
Art by Frank Forte, Szymon Kudranski, Marcin Ponomarew and Steve Mannion
2008, 56 pages
Comic released on August 11th, 2008
There aren't too many Anthology style books in the comics world nowadays. The only recent one that comes to mind is DC's Wednesday Comics experiment a couple of years ago. Fortunately, Asylum Press has produced a throwback to the days of the old Tales from the Crypt books with Warlash: Dark Noir. This over-sized first issue includes four total stories, all written by creator Frank Forte. One of the arcs is a stand alone tale, but the other three are just the first part of separate ongoing storylines, all drawn by different artists. Basically you get four stories for the price of one.
First up is Phlegm Fatale: Part 1, where we find out hero duking it out with an oversized mutant worm in the sewers below Pittsburgh. It seems this worm was once a scientist who now has a hunger for human flesh. Forte is on art duties here and I'm surprised by how different his style looks when compared to his part in Warlash: Zombie Mutant Genesis. Even though he's drawing the same character the pencils look and feel different. They look a bit more polished here. The dialogue, however is a bit on the heavy side. Our villain might as well be a from a Bond movie with the amount of exposition he dishes out. Warlash's inner monologue could be a bit better and for some reason the best curse word this armor-plated crime fighter with a giant metal tail can come up with is "Shoot" which he repeats a few times. This first story leaves off with Warlash about to be eaten by our disgusting worm evil-doer.
Next is Wormwar, which shifts from the genetic mutations of post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh to the technological side of things. Here Warlash attempts to stop a robbery committed by a few high tech gang members. Unfortunately he's distracted by their giant robot worm. The art here is by Szymon Kudranski who, despite his impossible to pronounce name, has a great set of painted panels here that would make any '80s hair metal band want to look him up for their next album cover. I'm not saying that as a bad thing. This art kicks ass. Most of this story is told from Warlash's perspective in the form of thought boxes (no one uses thought balloons anymore). Forte weaves the tale but it still seems a little clunky.
The stand alone story, The Demon, is the third story in the book. Warlash crashes a party where some teenagers thought it would be cool to use the Necronomicon to summon a demon. They were wrong and most of them pay the price. Warlash is there to send the Demon back to where he came from. Marcin Ponomarew's art is a little cartoony but when you have a giant red demon with 4 sets of jaws that can work to your advantage. Overall though it looks rushed and somewhat incomplete.
Finally we come to a black and white story called Grubbs that really encapsulates the noir from the title. Warlash is on the trail of a decomposing former pimp who is out to scar all of the hookers in town in revenge for his current condition. It has a very old school private eye feel to it and the colorless pencils by Steve Mannion really lends itself to that. As with the previous stories, this one wraps up with some unfinished business for our hero as he comes face-to-face with Grubbs.
Warlash: Dark Noir is a great value for the cover price. You get four stories here in one oversized book. Warlash takes on very different kinds of threats too, spanning from the genetic mutation / mad science villains to techno-enhanced weaponry to the occult. Plus they're dark, bloody, and filled with gore. I'm not seeing much of a downside here.
Click cover to purchase.
You can check out the preview for Warlash: Dark Noir at Asylum Press.
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